Military Spouse Magazine

OCT 2018

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Page 13 of 35

O U R L I V E S "I'M SORRY, WHAT DID YOU SAY YOU DO FOR A LIVING?" This is the question people usually ask me after I tell them I am a ghostwriter. They know what a "ghost" is, and they know what a "writer" does, but confusion sets in when I combine the two words. After giving them a moment or two to picture me wearing a lengthy white sheet so I can go around town scaring people in the middle of the night and then writing stories about it—al- though that would be a lot of fun, come to think of it—I offer my explanation: as a ghostwriter, I write books for people who do not have the time or the skills to accomplish the task on their own. Being a ghostwriter means that you have to have the ability to disappear from the words you write. You have to become the person who will be credited as the author and doing so requires a lot of research. I spend on average 150 hours interviewing my client, getting to know him or her on a personal level. I study the tone of voice, body language, facial expressions, recurrent sentences or sayings, the environment that surrounds the future author, and so much more. All these details, which might seem insignif- icant to many, are pivotal parts of my job. For example, I once met an incred- ible woman who had decided to share her wonderful life story in a memoir. After speaking with her for a while, I noticed how she concluded every story—one more jaw-dropping than the other—with hearty laughter, as if she herself couldn't believe she had experienced that, and shaking her head slightly, while looking down and almost closing her eyes, she'd say, "Go figure!" I knew that in order to write her memoir and completely disappear as a writer—thus becoming a "ghost"—I'd have to make sure to report her recurring expression. After I was done writing her 200-plus-page manuscript, I remember laughing, looking down, shaking my head, and typing the final two words that concluded the last chapter: "Go figure!" Her memoir went on to become a best- seller and she was given the Presidential Award by Reverend Al Sharpton. But how did my career as a ghostwriter begin? Well, believe it or not, I actually have the military to thank. My husband, who is in the Air Force, was stationed in England, a dream base to us. We had it all: my husband loved his job, we wel- comed our first child there, lived in a picturesque little house with the cutest British garden, and lots of friends who invited us over for "tea and biscuits." I also felt fulfilled as a working woman. In fact, after earning a certificate from the University of Cambridge to teach English to adults, I was hired at one of the best colleges in Cambridge. Life just couldn't get any better. TAKE THE LEAP If you have a passion for writing, and would like to get into ghostwriting, please feel free to contact me. I'd love to point you in the right direction and give you helpful tips on how to make it into this industry. My Life as a Ghostwriter By Brunella Costaliola, Air Force Spouse ENTER THE MILITARY In 2012, my husband received orders to move to Amsterdam. While I was excited about our next adventure, I was devastated at the idea of having to leave my job but tried to remain positive and hopeful that I could further my career in The Netherlands. After applying to teach to the few language schools in A'dam, I was told that one of the requirements to be hired was for me to be fluent in Dutch. Uh-oh. I had learned a few Dutch words to get around, but I was nowhere near fluent. Suddenly, for the first time in my life, I found myself being a stay-at-home mom with no prospect of a job. So, I turned to the only other thing I knew how to do: I began writing articles on a wide variety of topics—from literature, history, to hip-hop music—and posting them on a website that would display them for free. After a few months, I received an email from a man who introduced himself as the project manager of a memoir that had to be written. He had come across my articles and liked my writing style. During our first phone call, he asked me if I felt confident in being a ghostwriter. I had never thought of it, but the project was so incredible that I just had to give it a try. Soon after, I was flown to Los Angeles to meet the woman whose memoir ended with "Go figure!" I have been a ghostwriter ever since and, a few years ago, I was hired by Kevin Anderson & Associates, one of the leading publishing firms in the country, as a ghostwriter and editor. My career has helped me meet amazing people whose stories I have been honored to write. As a military spouse, this is the perfect job for me, as it has followed me through many PCSs, allowing me to work from home, while raising my children, and supporting my military mem- ber. It has also opened many doors, the most important and fulfilling one for me being when, in 2017, I was asked to author a children's book for military families by the National Academy of Neuropsychology Foundation. The book, titled "My Dad Got Hurt. What Can I Do?" illustrated by a longtime Disney cartoonist, was published later that year and has been welcomed by the military community as a much-needed book. The book, which is distributed for free to wounded warrior families, was my way of thanking and giving back to the military for forcing me to become what I was always meant to be. H Brunella Costagliola is a best-selling editor, ghostwriter, mamma of two incredibly precious beasts (oops, Darlings), and a proud Air Force wife. When she is not trying to save the world with a perfectly polished manuscript, or a tear-jerking, chair-grabbing, heart-pounding story, she can be found in the kitchen baking lots of yummy treats, or taking photos of her children eating said yummy treats. Photos provided by Brunella Costaliola 14 MILITARYSPOUSE.COM / OCTOBER 2018

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